I hope you and your family are enjoying summer so far! Here’s an update from the Capitol.
Our communities continue to experience tragic deaths as a result of opioid overdoses. In 2020, we lost a record 678 Minnesotans. Last summer, Minnesota signed onto a historic National Opioid Settlement with drug makers and distributors from which Minnesota is expected to receive $300 million.
This session, I was the chief author of a bill to distribute this funding based on an agreement the state reached with local governments. Cities and counties will receive 75% of the money while the state will receive 25% to be used for opioid education, treatment, prevention, and recovery. Yesterday, Governor Walz invited advocates and those impacted by opioid-related tragedies for a ceremony to sign the bill into law.
Last year’s settlement was a positive step toward accountability for the companies which profited from addiction. Now, with this bill signed into law, we can effectively and efficiently put settlement funds to use and bolster our efforts to prevent senseless tragedies and heartbreak due to this crisis.
While we were able to make many meaningful accomplishments for our state this legislative session, many of the most urgent priorities for Minnesotans remain up in the air. Lawmakers were close to finishing our work in several areas when we reached the constitutional deadline and adjourned. With a bipartisan, bicameral supplemental budget framework agreed upon, this was deeply disappointing. In a few specific budget areas, we reached agreement including Taxes, Environment and Natural Resources, and Higher Education. In other areas, including K-12 Education and Public Safety, the Senate Republican Majority showed little interest in reaching a compromise.
Lawmakers are still working hard to address rising costs, deliver support for students, keep our communities safe, and more. This is all too important to remain left undone, even if it will require a special session to get it across the finish line. I’m hopeful Senate Republicans will fully engage and collaborate on the work Minnesotans expect of us, no matter how difficult.
Minnesota’s frontline workers – who were unable to work from home – put their own health at risk during the darkest days of the pandemic to keep our state moving forward. To reward them for their sacrifices, lawmakers agreed this session to invest $500 million toward bonus payments. Eligible workers include health care workers, first responders, child care providers, food service and retail workers, and more, all of whom can expect a $750 payment.
Applications are now being accepted! Visit frontline pay.mn.gov to see if you are eligible and to apply. The deadline is July 22.
As always, I invite you to reach out to me with your input, ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. It’s an honor to represent you.